CONTRIBUTION BY DENNIS CLARKE 1961/1968
I can't say I enjoyed the environment especially and I didn't come into my own, with improved confidence etc, until well after I left Blackpool. Then I was emphatically nervy and academic and not at all sporty. I was the extremely nerdy and fearful kid who, sadly, got a permanent sick note out of his Mum to avoid PE and sports! Now I am an avid walker and would be a more frequent cyclist if it weren’t such a good way to commit suicide on our local roads! And of all things I couldn't imagine way back then, and of which the Brothers would probably disapprove, I do T'ai Chi which is a great help, as the old joints etc stiffen up. And I have latterly discovered that I am no good with ball games, because I have more or less monocular vision, which means I'm never really quite sure where the ball is!
The balance of my memories of St Joe's is good although I wear the scars from the brutality, only metaphorically, as a badge of honour in memory of those less fortunate than myself, who were constantly picked on by certain of the Brothers. Kids today could never imagine what we went through. Nevertheless, I think the education was good as it prepared me well to get my degree, Hull University, and to go on to a successful career in the engineering side of BT, a bit strange for a History graduate, from which I retired early a few years ago.
Bro Liddane, Noddy, taught my 4th year class mathematics. Two memories stand out for me because mathematics figured prominently in my later career.
I did not learn any mathematics at all, and my prospect for O-level at the end of that year was that I might just scrape a pass. Praise be, in the new academic year, we got Bro McGovern, whose manic attention to detail, and strap, ensured I got grade 1, and I have never looked back since!
In the first class after lunch, Noddy used to set us an exercise, "work away, work away", while he attempted to stay awake marking homework. Invariably he dozed off until his head nodded (is that how he got his nickname?) and he woke himself up. Then we had the theatrics of him claiming he had been distracted by "a boy", and he would chastise someone close by. I recollect the target was always one of a select group of kids, never me - I was too far from ground zero, and the names Coyle and Merrick, where are they now?, were high on the list. Of course, sometimes it was one of the boys who had done something that had woken up Noddy, but the perpetrator was rarely found out.
I went through the Catholic schools system, St Cuthbert's - Our Lady of the Assumption - St Joe's, because my late Dad was of solid Irish Catholic stock. However, my mother was a convert from the C of E and eventually I found my spiritual home as a fuzzy-minded Anglican with Romish tendencies. I have been a parish churchwarden, a lay member of a deanery synod and, briefly, a member of a diocesan committee. I did consider becoming a non-stipendiary minister but realised it was not my calling, even though I enjoyed doing a little trial preaching!
What else. Only to say I am quite happy living on the South coast with my wife and our dog, and keeping close to my aging Mum, who moved down to be near us some years ago. I don't miss the Blackpool that is, only the one that was, including hulking St Joe's on that hill, seriously though, it wasn't such a bad building, and those odd Irish men in black.
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